No matter what you do for a living, it’s a good bet there are whole bunch of other people doing exactly the same thing. Your customers, clients or potential employers have dozens … maybe even hundreds of choices.
The big question is: why should they choose you?
Every one of us, in every line of work, ought to be able to answer that question. And we should be able to do it in a way that’s pithy, potent and persuasive. The reality? It’s a tough one for most people in most businesses.
I’ve been talking to people at a non-profit, asking each one a simple question. “What is your role in the organization?” I heard long, detailed descriptions that didn’t mean much. If we’d been at a networking meeting, I would have been smiling politely and edging away before they were halfway finished.
And those folks are not unusual. You know that I speak to all kinds of groups, from business women to sales professionals to analytical types like project managers. And I meet an even wider variety of people when I’m networking.
I run into the same thing time after time. Across functions. In every industry. Among all age groups. And both sexes. People just have no idea how to convey their value.
They talk too much. They say too little. And they utterly fail to set themselves apart from all the other individuals and companies who offer something similar.
Chances are pretty good you’ve wrestled with this yourself, whether you’re a solo professional out to meet new clients, or searching for your next corporate position. Here are three quick tips that will help.
1. When we ask you what you do, realize that we really mean “What can you do for me?”
Focus first on your listener or your clients or your employer. What will they get when they do business with you? What problems will they solve with your help? How will you make their business better or their life more fulfilling?
Notice that the attention is on them. It’s not about the steps you’ll take or the process you’ll follow or the work you’ll do. It’s not about the label printed on your business card.
It’s about the outcome for the people you serve. So talk about them before you yap about you.
2. This is no time for modesty.
A lot of us grew up hearing “Don’t boast.” “You’re getting too big for your britches.” “Don’t get a swelled head.” “Who do you think you are?” We took all those play-small messages to heart and brought them straight into our business life.
Women, especially, tend to dismiss their success and their smarts. We often hide our light under a bushel basket, thanks to all that conditioning about modesty.
When you’re promoting your business, you can toss all that out the window. Playing down your strengths and talents and skills will keep you from success.
Okay, there is a limit here. You don’t have to brag endlessly about being a very stable genius. But if you don’t tell us how good you are, we’ll have a hard time finding out. And you will have a hard time finding clients.
3. Give us a reason to believe.
It’s hard for your customers or clients or potential employers to cut through the blah-blah of promotional language. Top of the line, best in class, blue-ribbon… what does it all mean, exactly?
So after you’ve made your message about them, bring it back to you and support it. With all the choices we have, we need some evidence that we should choose you.
That could be a quick case study: tell us a story about someone like us who got their money’s worth and more from what you offer.
You might have statistics to back up your message. 90% of your clients come back to work with you again. 73% of your customers are referrals from other happy customers.
Maybe you won an award for your hot new product or your outstanding customer service. That award is the evidence that you do a darn good job.
What’s even better than you telling us what a good job you’ll do for us? Letting us hear it from a happy customer. Testimonials are a great way to support what you say. Or, you might be able to point your prospects to a review site where they can see what others have said about you.
There is one caveat about the evidence you offer. Remember to tie it back to us. The magic words here are “so that” or “that means.”
Example: professionals often point out how long they’ve been in business. That might be persuasive, if you tell me what it means to me.
“We’ve been doing this for 17 years. That means we’ve seen it all and we put all that experience to work for you. So you know you’ll get the best results.”
This is your chance to practice. How do you back up your Why-Me Message? Comment below and tell us what you do, brag a little bit … and be sure to give us a reason to believe.